Forum addresses Church pedophilia

Mia Washington

Responding to the scandal that has recently affected the Catholic Church, the Office for Mission Effectiveness continued its “Crisis in the Church” series with a lecture entitled “Psycho-Sexual Dimensions.” This most recent lecture focuses on the problem of child molestation in today’s society and the effects of pre-pubescent and adolescent molestation. Panelists lecturing were Dr. Bob Thornton, O.S.A., Dr. Linda Copel of Nursing and Dr. Pamela Blewitt of the Psychology Department.

According to Blewitt, children possess a developing sense of morality that grows in accordance to their relationships with peers and adult role models. Blewitt explained that in pedophiles, this moral sense of self is somehow violated, leading to a hindered development and moral distortion, which can lead a person to become a child molester.

Blewitt also emphasized that children are rarely molested by strangers. “Most abuse occurs by someone a child is close to,” she said. In addition, she stated that the effects of child abuse can be long-lasting, leading to depression, anger and warped ideas about sexual relationships.

Thornton discussed the obstacles in trying to protect children from molesters, since molesters can be very deceiving. “There is no specific profile for a child molester,” he said. “They could easily be the person right next door.”

Thornton also dispelled the myth that molesters are usually single men. He stated that most “molesters are married adults with children, who have an unsatisfying and unfulfilling sexual life.”

Women are also not the only victims anymore. Thornton stated that in the past few years, statistics show that an increasing number of males are being victimized.

He also commented on the role of the Church in this victimization of males. For years, psychologists have warned that Catholic dogma imposes restraints on sexuality and tends to attract people who are uncomfortable with their sexuality. However, Thornton stated that more research should be done to see if high rates of molestation have occured in other religions in addition to Catholicism.

The panel ended with a discussion of how to alleviate the impacts of molestation. Copel said support for the victims is crucial. “Acknowledging the problem is the first step in helping the victim,” she said.

However, she stated that too many families ignore the situation instead of helping the victim, thus causing more harm. Copel terms this type of situation “crazy making,” as the family causes unneeded additional trauma to the victim.

“Bonding together and helping the victim is the key way to assure that no more harm be done to the person,” Copel said.

Copel ended the talk by discussing how the social stigmas involved with molestation can be reduced. “The situation is impossible, but not hopeless, if there are willing and able people to help,” she said.